by Richard Gorelick
The Baltimore Sun
2:15 PM EDT, September 26, 2012
Britain’s National Pig Association has a Save Our Bacon campaign that encourages British consumers to support British pig farmers by eating British pork products.
The campaign seldom draws international attention. But a Sept. 6 press release (Worldwide pork shortage predicted) and its Sept. 20 follow-up (Europe's pork and bacon supply is contracting fast) hit their marks.
Reports on the bacon shortage were the talk of social media on Monday and Tuesday. "Twitter users reacted to the news in hysterics," Mashable reported, "calling it an 'aporkalypse.'
In their reports, many American media quoted this first sentence of the Sept. 20 news release: "A world shortage of pork and bacon next year is now unavoidable, says Britain's National Pig Association."
And the third sentence was quoted, or paraphrased, too. "New data shows the European Union pig herd is declining at a significant rate, and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world." (added emphasis)
But here's what was sandwiched between those two claims: "British supermarkets can protect consumers from shortages and steep price rises if they pay Britain’s loss-making pig farmers a fair price, to help them remain in production."
Is a worldwide pork shortage unavoidable? Food journalists should be skeptical.
Rising food costs and their impact on consumers is an important story. So are the everyday decisions that members of the restaurant industry have to make.
"For Americans who spend only 9 percent of their income on food, the doubling of food prices is not a big deal,' notes Earth Policy Institute president Lester Brown, author of the just published "Full Planet, Empty Plates: The New Geopolitics of Food Scarcity."
"But for those who spend 50–70 percent of their income on food," Brown said, "it is a serious matter."
If this bacon encourages food journalists to learn more about these issues and to ask better questions, the National Pig Association will have performed a useful service.
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